Democracy and freedom of speech -- these concepts are intrinsic to people having a voice and fundamental to the American way. Living in the U.K., we have our heritage in our royalty, passed down through generations by blood lines. In the U.S., it is the brands that are the royalty, and this is proven in the fact they are the first target in any backlash -- globally. We expect them to have a moral consciousness, to have a finger on the pulse of modern society thinking, to take a global perspective but be culturally significant at a local level. This is why I think brands and Obama are actually bouncing off one another right now.
Take Pepsi -- a global all-American brand. A red-and-white patriotic symbol of 'times of refreshing' and very much a part of this royal heritage of all that is American. An American-global brand utilising an American-global icon. And within a global society that is slowly being squeezed towards economic collapse, they know that change is necessary and people need a positive lift, they need refreshing. In fact let's 'Refresh Everything'. Pepsi have tapped into this change and just pressed the cold, hard reset button on brand-building across modern media. People, Obama and Pepsi have just rebooted the entire system, mark my words.
Pepsi's recent campaign has made consumers part of the conversation: gone are the days of consumers sitting back and listening to the leader of the country. Now, it's about engagement at various points of media from social media like Facebook to blogs and tweets to in-banner video messages.
So, in celebration of the presidential inauguration, Pepsi launched a major web 2.0 event that empowered Americans to speak to the President directly through Pepsi's video banner ad, predominantly through a YouTube channel and complemented by a destination site entitled 'Refresh Everything'. The concept of the 'Dear Mr. President' ad campaign created by R/GA was promoted by celebrities voicing their well wishes and encouraging you, from your office or home, to do the same.
It allowed everyone with a webcam or messaging platform to share their thoughts and wishes on what should (and shouldn't) be changed about the country by sending a text or uploading a video to the dedicated YouTube channel, facilitated around key media placements though a fully interactive web banner and served through Eyeblaster's technology. So, in using online and social media channels to connect with consumers, Pepsi leveraged the common American theme, 'freedom of speech', to ignite this event -- utilising online media as open forum for consumers to communicate with Obama, yet all the while staying engaged with Pepsi's brand.
The shifting digital media landscape has created a cultural shift in the way that consumers and audiences engage -- whether brands, movements or politics. Pepsi's banner ad represents the more innovative use of online media: it empowers the end user to interact, form an opinion and speak directly to the American leader, something that truly is groundbreaking, and in doing so, speaks to a new generation of consumers. And the evidence speaks for itself; 14 cent of consumers who uploaded a video to YouTube did so through the banner. Today's online consumers are lot more willing than we give them credit for.
It is imaginative conceptually as well as a demonstration of modern advertising technology, wrapped up in an advert that doesn't look like an advert. Pepsi is just enabling people to do what they really want to do, and becomes a facilitator of this inevitable change that is happening around the world. It has nothing to do with Pepsi tasting nice or any product push, it is a brand backing a brand in its pursuit of a change for the better. And I believe it has executed this beautifully and left a very sweet aftertaste in the mouth of many a consumer or media disciplinarian who long for its success in order to demonstrate to more cautious brands that they can follow suit.
Dean Donaldson is digital experience strategist at Eyeblaster.